After last weeks heroic display at St. Helens, another trip down the East Lancashire Road lay in store for Ian Watson’s Salford Red Devils.
After a long turn around the supporters were hoping to see a rejuvenated side and a fast start. They had to settle for the opposite. A sluggish opening with errors, poor play and penalties conceded putting Salford firmly on the back foot.
In the opening quarter both sides seemed to cancel each other out with the match becoming a some what scrappy affair.
Robins centre Kane Linnet powered through on Salford’s right edge to score the games opening try in the nineteenth minute. His wing man Ryan Shaw booted the conversion.
After some good work down the middle the Red Devils gained an attacking opportunity but with no one at acting half at the play the ball embarrassingly Hull kr regained possession. This allowed pressure to be built and with back to back penalties the two points on offer were taken to edge Rovers ahead to 0-8.
Things got worse for Salford when a speculative attacking kick caught them napping at the back. Craig Hall was on hand to take advantage touching down for a very simple score.
Moments after coming off the substitute bench huge forward Pauli Pauli added to Salford’s woes when his late challenge on Rovers scrum half Josh Drinkwater resulted in a sin bin from referee Ben Thaler. The Robins kept on building pressure looking to punish Salford even more. They were methodical and calculated, not taking to many risks in their play but Tim Sheens’s side didn’t need to. They were in complete control just before half time.
Salford hooker Joey Lussick grabbed his side a life line scoring one of his trade mark tries to send his team in with some hope. Krisnan Inu adding the goal kick, 6-14 at the break.
Attacking the famous Liverpool Kop in the second half Salford were in need of a famous Liverpool revival especially after Craig Hall capitalised on another howler. This time Derrell Olpherts failed to deal with a kick into the in goal area. The Robins full back touched down for another gift wrapped try to add to his first half present from the hapless Salford defence.
A dangerous tackle on Jackson Hastings sparked a mass brawl and this seemed to breath life in to The Red Devils. Huge forward Pauli Pauli smashed his way through the Rovers defence to score.
A super Salford try followed shortly after, a fantastic sequence of offloads keeping the ball alive thrilled The Anfield crowd. The ball travelled across the pitch right to left with Ken Sio squeezing in by the corner flag. Inu’s conversion attempt struck the post and came back out, 16-20.
The Red Devil’s were now playing with a renewed energy and enthusiasm. Sublime ball handling across the pitch again saw Sio finish superbly. The video referee was called upon to check but the try was given. The scores were level at 20-20 with just over ten minutes to go. Inu couldn’t convert the goal but the match was now anybody’s.
Salford’s poor discipline let them down conceding a penalty well within Ryan Shaw’s range. The Rovers winger didn’t need an invitation and nailed the conversion attempt to nudge his side back in front 22-20.
Salford failed to muster up the frantic finish required and the hooter sounded to round off a disappointing afternoon.
A much improved second half display but overall one that lacked any real fluidity or cohesion from Watson’s men.
Speaking post match Watson didn’t hide his disappointment,
“When your completing in the first half at 57% your not giving yourself a chance at all. It’s a massive missed opportunity the question for us is our we good enough to earn a playoff spot at the moment we’re not good enough.”
Salford now have a week off for the Challenge cup before an away trip to Hull on Friday 7th June.
Salford 20 Hull Kingston Rovers 22.